Thursday, January 26, 2012

President Obama mentions ‘Climate Change’ in his State Union Address


Last year President Obama avoided using ‘Climate Change’ in his State of the Union Address and focused on clean energy. This year the President did mention Climate Change, but not in a good way: “The differences in this chamber may be too deep right now to pass a comprehensive plan to fight climate change.” 2012 State Of The Union Address Enhanced Version | The White House#transcript

The President’s bowing to the power of the ‘chamber’ when he should be leading the country on Climate Change is disproportional to the concerns coming from our country’s own climate assessments. For example, this report that just came out this month from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, with support by the Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies minces no words on the scale and immediacy of the Climate Change problem.

“Our climate is changing, and these changes are already impacting the nation’s valuable natural resources and the people, communities, and economies that depend on them (see Chapters 1 and 2). The observed changes in climate, in turn, have been directly correlated to the increasing levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) in the atmosphere, which have set 5 in motion a series of changes in the planet’s climate system. Far greater changes are already inevitable because CO2 stays in the atmosphere for a long time. Even if further GHG emissions were halted today, alterations already underway in the Earth’s climate will last for hundreds or thousands of years. If GHG emissions continue, as is more likely, the planet’s temperature is projected to rise by 2.0 to 11.5 degrees Fahrenheit by the end 10 of the century, with accompanying major changes in extreme weather events, sea level rise, and acidification of our oceans. The pace and scale of these kinds of changes are expected to have major impacts on our natural resources and the communities and economies that depend on them.” From the Preface of NFWP Climate Adaptation Strategy

This means more powerful than the physics that is the underpinning of Climate Change is the extreme end of the Republican Party that doesn’t understand Climate Change science—probably because it threatens their ideology that less government is better and the free market can solve all problems. Both of which have been proven by history not to be true and threatens our existence.

But there you are, without leadership from the US President, addressing Climate Change remains a series of ad hoc solutions that won’t solve the problem.

One of the ad hoc items is drilling for natural gas in our country, which is a clear and present danger in New York State.

Hydrofracking gets a boost in President Obama's speech WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama's decision to support natural gas drilling on federal lands is being hailed by supporters of hydraulic fracturing in New York. Obama's comments in Tuesday's State of the Union speech "should send a message to all the folks back home that even the president has vetted this and we need to move forward together," said Republican Rep. Tom Reed of Corning. In his speech, Obama said America's natural gas reserves could meet the nation's energy needs for 100 years and could provide 600,000 jobs by the end of the decade.  (January 26, 2012) Democrat and Chronicle

Yet, despite the President’s rhetoric natural gas is still a fossil fuel that is helping to warm our atmosphere and there are a lot of environmental concerns that have not been answered yet.

We can applaud the President’s desire to remove the billions in subsides the fossil fuel gets to give clean, renewable energy a chance, but that probably won’t happen. It’s a nice thought anyway.

“Every budget President Obama has submitted to Congress since 2009 has called for chopping subsidies for oil and other fossil fuels in the neighborhood of $4 billion. Each time, it has gone nowhere. The response from the Senate and the House isn't expected to change after Obama presents his newest budget in early February. Once again, it will likely die on Capitol Hill.” (January 26, 2012) Obama's Latest Energy Blueprint: Will Congress Go Along? | InsideClimate News

And we are encouraged by the President’s promise of clean energy:

Obama: 'I Will Not Walk Away From The Promise Of Clean Energy' President Obama called for more domestic oil and gas production in his State of the Union address, saying that "a future where we're in control of our own energy" is within reach, where the nation's security and prosperity would not be so closely linked to unstable parts of the world.  (January 26, 2012) Environment : NPR

But at the end of the day, today, we are very puzzled by the overwhelming evidence that Climate Change is happening and our absolute inability to address it in a manner that would actually affect something so incredibly vast as our atmosphere.

It looks hopeless, given our present political climate, given our media’s unwillingness to hold the presidential candidates to the fire on Climate Change, and given our short-term desire for what appears to be (but actually isn’t) cheap energy. But I may be wrong.

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